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Blueberry, Vaccinium myrtllus / Ericaceae
Postharvest Atmosphere Management
The blueberries, like many other berries, must be stored at temperatures next to 0ºC, and 90-95% of relative humidity. Under these conditions they last from 2 to 5 days. This species is sensitive to ethylene; if it is removed from the storage room we may reduce the development of possible diseases.

The use of modified atmosphere during packing and sea transport reduces the development of the fungus Botrytis cinerea and some other organisms, apart from diminishing the rate of respiration and softening of the fruit; thus, post-harvest life is extended. The fruit must be cooled before applying this type of atmosphere. The appropriate conditions are 15-20% of carbon dioxide and 5-10% of oxygen.
Postharvest Problems
Among the disorders that currants may undergo during storage are the water loss, leaking and alterations caused by incorrect management of the controlled atmosphere. The main problems are the diseases caused by the fungi Botrytis cinerea and Rhizopus stolonifer.

Water loss: the berries are very susceptible to this problem, that may be prevented if they are maintained at high levels of moisture and appropriate temperatures.

Leakers: this term refers to currants that exude liquid to the outside. This problem may be due to physiological decompositions.

Alterations caused by controlled atmospheres: losses of flavour and browning may occur if blueberries are subject to concentrations of oxygen below 2% and/or of carbon dioxide over 25%.

The diseases are the main cause of post-harvest losses in blueberries. Among them we find:

Botrytis cinerea or grey mould: this fungus is a very common pathogen in berries. It may grow even at 0ºC.

Rhizopus stolonifer is another fungus that attacks berries. It stops its growth at 5ºC, producing a kind of white cotton on the fruit, along with black spots of the size of a needle head; these are the fungus fructiferous bodies.

The means to control these fungi are fast cooling and the use of carbon dioxide atmospheres.
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